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|The Story of Kaque and the Mother of Faces|
December 12, 2016
This is the story of the greatest firebender in history, Kaque. It all happened 100 years ago, just as the Hundred Year War began, and right as Avatar Roku vanished. It all started with a boy name Kaque. He was young and in his prime. He was one of the greatest firebenders in his village. Kaque loved to duel with other benders from the different nations. Defeating any and all who accepted his challenge. Shān zhèn (shan jin), which means Mountain Town was his village. His village was situated on the side of a mountain overlooking the Forgetful Valley. The village was very small but beautiful. Candles lit lanterns that crossed over the street like a spider's web in a window. The roof of the buildings were a stunning burgundy while the walls complemented them with their light brown. In the center of the town there was a statue of a golden dragon with monstrous flames that barreled out of it mouth. On the edge of a cliff outside of the town there was a shrine for a spirit called The Mother of Faces. The shrine was open on all four sides with a roof supported by four marvelous light blue pillars. The edge of the roof was lined with a beautiful light green glass that matched the color of leaves on an oak tree. In the middle of the shrine stood a statue of a beautiful woman in a robe standing overlooking the valley. The statue was cut from a single piece of marble.
One day a woman by the name of Mia heard a story of a man named Kaque and how he was the greatest Firebender anyone has seen since the time of the Sun Warriors! This story displeased Mia, she had to prove that she was the greatest Firebender in history. Her bending was only matched by the power one would get from Sozin's Comet. She had a messenger hawk sent to his village to deliver a message. The village lies across the Forgotten Valley. The two towns have a combat-less rivalry for years. The citizens of Shān zhèn believe the Forgetful Valley is a sacred place and shouldn't be trifled with, for this reason it is forbidden to enter the forest in the valley. The people of Hira'a didn't believe that it was sacred and used it as a trade route.
The note that was sent with the messenger hawk contained a challenge to an Agni Kai. An Agni Kai is a firebending dueling tradition dating back to the ancient Sun Warriors. The Agni Kai was only meant to settle disputes as a last resort. After the reign Fire Lord Sozin, the Agni Kai was used to settle even the smallest dispute and only ended with the scarring or the death of the opponent. When the note was delivered to Kaque, he presented it to the town elders. The note read, " I, Mia of Hira'a, challenge Kaque of Shān zhèn to an Agni Kai. This will be to settle the rivalry between our towns. The Agni Kai will talk place a the middle pond of the Forgetful Valley at sundown. I'll be expecting you. -The greatest firebender in history." The elders told Kaque not to accept this challenge. Kaque longed for a battle such as this one. The elders would not allow him to go and settle this dispute because entering the Forgetful Valley was forbidden!
Later that night Kaque decided it was his destiny to fight this battle. He left the village before sundown making his way to the pond. As he walked the path to the forest, signs littered the road saying, "Turn back," and "Those who enter never return." This frightened Kaque, but it didn't stop him. When he reached the edge of the forest he stopped. The height of the trees towering over him caused the forest to be even darker than he imagined. This caused Kaque to rethink this fight, this decision. He thought for a minute, pressed on, and moved through the forest. It was dark in the forest, darker than anything he had ever seen. He used his firebending to carry a small flame in his hand. The light of the flame flickered against the trees causing the illusion of faces, frightening Kaque. As he walked the trail, it became more and more overgrown. When he looked back.. the trail was gone! This frightened Kaque very much; he started moving faster and faster on the trail. There was a light ahead. When he saw the light he broke into a sprint; the faster he moved the quicker the foliage behind his started to close in. As he reached the light, he dove out of the forest and rolled into the open area. This was it. He was at the pond. He was confused. It is sundown. Where is she? Has she forgotten? As he sat down on a rock he heard a voice of a woman. He jumped up taking his firebender fighting stance. There was a woman standing there at the edge of the woods dressed in a red robe.
"Who are you!" he demanded.
"I am Mia," She replied in a devious voice
"I am Kaqu-" He went to reply.
"I know who you are, Kaque," she interrupted. "And you know why I'm here! To prove to the world I'm the greatest Firebender in history!!"
"You're looking at the greatest Firebender!" he retorted back.
"We shall see!" Mia replied.
They both took their stance. Mia took the first strike launching a fury of fire with extreme power from her tightly clenched fists. Kaque slapped his hands together making a point splitting the line of fire split into two, shooting them behind him setting the trees in a blaze. Neither of them paid attention to the fire that engulfed the trees. Kaque shot six rapid balls of fire at Mia, she rolled and ducked to evade the blasts. She rolled to her feet while shooting flames. As she shot two blasts of fire, Kaque jump over them while bending a fire knife. He landed right in front of her. He slashed his fiery blade across her robe slicing the hood and setting it on fire. Mia jumped back doing a flip and landed as she ripped off the hood of her robe. Kaque watched as her hair fell to her shoulders as if it were a field of grain waving in the wind. When she looked up and made eye contact him, her eyes stunned him with their beauty. They reflected the light like fire over a lake. While he was entranced by her beauty, she shot a blast of fire at him. He came to at the last second, but it was too late. He was struck by the fire blast on the shoulder of his left side knocking him to his back. All of the trees around the pond were lit in an extreme blaze, the light of the fire could be seen from both villages. As Kaque went to sit up on his knee Mia walked over to him shooting a ball of fire at his shoulder once again. This caused Kaque to scream in pain and fall back again.
"You claim to be the best Firebender in the world but you can't even defeat a girl!" she boasted, as she put her foot on his chest.
"I let you win," he groaned.
"What! That's not true! I defeated you!"
"I let you win because I couldn't live with myself if I hurt something as beautiful as you," he said looking up at her.
"What.. y-you think I'm.. I'm beautiful," She stammered in a confused voice. Stepping back she took her foot of his chest.
"Yes. You are the most beautiful girl I have seen," he said looking into her eyes.
A tear started to fall down her face. Kaque rose and grabbed her hand letting out a grunt from the pain in his shoulder.
"I am sorry. I didn't mean too," she said with sorrow in her voice.
"It is okay, the pain will subside."
"But the scar will remain."
"It adds character. Haha," he said with a chuckle.
The fire roared around them consuming more and more of the trees.
"We need to put this fire out or it'll destroy the whole valley!" Kaque said.
"Alright let's do it," Mia replied.
Both of the powerful benders, using their great abilities, were able to extinguish the flames.
Kaque turned to Mia and grabbed her hands. As he went to say something a young man came from out of the forest shouting.
"KAQUE! KAQUE! Come quick! An angry spirit is attacking Shān zhèn! Hurry!"
"Mongash?? Slow down. What's happening???" he replied.
"There's an angry spirit attacking the city! You need to hurry!" explained Mongash.
"Where's the Avatar!! This a matter for the Avatar Roku! Not me i'm just a firebender!" he shouted back.
"Avatar Roku is not here right now! You are! You're the most powerful Firebender I've ever seen," said Mongash.
"The most powerful firebender is this beautiful woman next to me," he replied.
"I don't care who's the most powerful! My village, YOUR VILLAGE needs you," He yelled in a fury of rage.
"Okay I will help! Let's go!" said Kaque. "I'll be back for you, my love! Meet me here tomorrow at mid-day," he said as he let her hands go and ran off into the darkness of the forest.
Kaque and Mongash sprinted through the woods as fast as a wild Tiger monkey. When they reached Shān zhèn it was half burnt and the other half was in flames. The spirit was wreaking havoc on the village. In a house that the roof had fallen in, cries of help could be heard. Kaque ran over, pulled a little girl and her father from rubble, and sent them to the top of the mountain where it would be safe. He told others to follow. Mongash was asked to lead the people. When all the villagers were finally evacuated to the top of the mountain, Kaque went up to the spirit.
"GREAT SPIRIT! WHY ARE YOU ATTACKING MY HOME?!?! WHO ARE YOU?" Kaque yelled.
The spirit turned around, she had several faces without eyes that glowed. The top of her head had six spikes that looked like tree roots. Her whole body was made of something that looked like wood twisted in a spiral.
"I AM THE MOTHER OF FACES! YOU BURNT MY HOME! I BURN YOURS!!" the spirit said in an angry distorted female voice.
"Where is your home? We have done nothing to your home!" he said.
"Look over the valley to the pond in the middle of the four! Fire has scared it and destroyed my home!"
Kaque walked and dropped to his knee on the edge of the cliff.
"This is my fault. The elders told me not to go. Not to fight but I thought it was my destiny. I brought great pain to you and this village for this I am sorry."
"Great spirit is there anyway to restore the forest to its former glory??" he said with a hint of hope in his voice.
"There is one way young firebender. You give your life for all the life that were lost," she said.
Kaque looked over the valley for minute then he looked over at the village of Hira'a. He turned around to the Mother of Faces and said, " I'll gladly trade my life for that of those that were lost."
"This is your true destiny young bender," the spirit said.
"I only have one request from you Great Mother," he said.
"What is your request my son?" she asked.
"That you leave village of Hira'a alone forever..."
The spirit was surprised by this. "I can promise you this, IF they promise to respect my forest," she said.
"Can I have a day to say my "goodbyes?"" Kaque said with tears in his eyes.
"Very well. Meet me at the pond you destroyed tomorrow at midnight. If you forget I will destroy everything you love!" she said in a serious voice.
"I will not forget. You have my word."
The spirit walked down the path to Forgetful Valley and disappeared.
Kaque walked through the village looking at all the destruction caused by his selfish actions. The village was almost gone. All the buildings were burnt or destroyed. The golden dragon still stood shooting flames from its mouth. Kaque sat against the dragon. As the sun rose over the fire-scarred valley, all of the townspeople came back to the town with tears in their eyes. Everything was destroyed Kaque. Stood up to address his community.
"My fellow townsmen. I have brought this upon us. I received a note. A challenge to Agni Kai. I felt like it was my destiny to settle the conflict between Shān zhèn and Hira'a. I was wrong. I went to prove I'm the best firebender in history. While in the midst of our battle we set part of the forest on fire."
People started to gather around Kaque.
"That is why the Mother of Faces attacked our village. I burnt her home, she burnt mine. I am truly sorry. I have decided to give my life for what was lost. I will use my spirit rebuild it. "
A man from the crowd yelled out.
"The forest was forbidden and you went anyway! Now look at our village! It's destroyed!"
"I know for this I deeply sorry... I'll be leaving now."
He disappeared into the forest.
As Kaque walked through the forest he could see the faces on everything, the tree's bark, leaves and even on the animal's backs. When he finally made it to the pond, the Mother of Faces was awaiting him.
"I see you haven't forgotten our deal but you are here early," she said in a pleased voice.
"I am a man of my word. I have said my goodbyes," he said sadly.
"Are you ready my son?"
"Yes. I am sorry Mia," he said tears running down both sides of his face.
The Mother of faces touched Kaque on the forehead. A bright light shot out of both of their mouth and eyes. The light could be seen all the way from the capital city of the Fire Nation. When the light disappeared Kaque and the Mother of Faces were gone and the forest was restored to its former glory.
The people at Shān zhèn were cleaning the rubble up when the light shot into the sky. The golden dragon that was located in the center of the town was no longer shooting normal flames. The color had changed to a blue flame.
"KAQUE! KAQUE! Has anyone seen Kaque? I'm looking for Kaque!" Mia came into Shān zhèn screaming.
One of the town elders walked up to Mia and said, "Kaque is gone... May I ask who is asking?" the elder said.
"I am Mia of Hira'a," she said in strong voice. "What do you mean gone!?"
"He gave his life to restore the forest to its original state. I'm sorry" The man said.
Mia fell to the ground and bursted into tears.
"I could have saved him. It could have been me. It's my fault he's gone," she kept muttering.
"Young lady it isn't your fault. It was his destiny."
Mia looked up into the elderly man's eyes. Seeing the kindness she wanted to return it. She stood up. Standing tall and proud she said, "Citizens of Shān zhèn, your town is destroyed but your spirit is strong. You have shown me great kindness. I would like to show you some in return. Everyone gather your things, you are all welcome to come back to Hira'a and resume your lives."
Everyone looked around and at each other hesitant.
"I'll go." A hand shot up from the back.
As the crowd parted Mongash came walking through.
"I'll go with you. Even if it means traveling through the Forgotten Valley," he said. He was no longer afraid of the valley. "Everyone I encourage you to follow us. A promising life is awaits us in Hira'a."
"My family and I will join you," a woman said from the crowd, she and her family came walking forward.
"Me and My wife will go," a man from the front of the crowd said.
More and more people started to gather their things and congregate around the dragon statue in the center of the town. It was almost mid-day when everyone was ready for the journey through the valley.
"Alright everyone, It's time to start moving if we are going to reach Hira'a by sundown," Mia said as she started to lead everyone on the path to Hira'a... through the valley.
The trip through the Valley was long and challenging. They stopped to take a break outside of Hira'a.
"We are almost there everyone. Hira'a is just over this hill. A new life awaits," Mia said standing on top of the hill.
"We are ready," said Mongash.
"Let's continue then," said Mia
Everyone hopped to their feet and started to walk again.
When they reached the top of the hill they were stunned with beauty. The town was as beautiful as their own. It was almost all the same. There was a Golden Dragon sitting in the center of the with blue flames barreling out of its monstrous snout.
"It....it's like home," A woman said crying.
Mia walked up to the crying woman, put her hand on her back, looked at her, and said, "This is home."
"Only one thing is different," Mia said.
"What's that?" Mongash said.
"There isn't a shrine of a woman overlooking the valley."
"We'll have to build one. But I don't think it should be a woman this time," Mongash replied.
"How come?" Mia asked.
"Because Kaque gave his life for the forest. I think it should be Kaque," he said.
"I couldn't agree more," she said with a smile on her face.
In three months time the shrine was constructed. It was even more beautiful than the shrine in Shān zhèn. Kaque's shrine had four, grand, fire-orange pillars. The roof of the building was built with ember-red glass. At the top stood the golden dragon from Shān zhèn, shooting blue flames out if its mouth. In the middle of the shrine sat a statue of a man one knee. He had a crack from the top of his left shoulder to his heart. This is Kaque.
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